Newsle�er Spring 2020 Highlights: Accreditation Program Updates Coronavirus AUSPA Events Student Achievement Faculty Updates
“Astounding” Accreditation site visitors rave about Auburn planning program
AUSPA IN BRIEF AUSPA is a student organization that supports professional development, fellowship and practical experience for planning students and others. This semester AUSPA welcomed new officers: Scott Berson, President Wilson Bowling, Vice President Lauren Benson, Secretary Nancy Andou, International Student Representative Matt Hardegree, Treasurer
AUSPA Events: • Guest speaker Dr. Cheryl Contant spoke to students about planning's role in sustainability issues & food waste • AUSPA members traveled to Columbus, GA to meet with local leaders & tour downtown • AUSPA held a potluck and documentary movie night in the studio • Dr. Abhinav Alakshendra, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, gave a guest presentation over Zoom on April 16
The MCP program took a massive leap forward this February after concluding the site-visit portion of the PAB (Planning Accreditation Board) accreditation process. Months of planning, combined with a detailed self-study report, culminated in a three-day visit by the site visit team, which was composed of two academic planners and one active practitioner.
budgeting and the other to offering a course on global planning.
The next step is for the PAB to send a site visit report and meet in October to make a final determination. If the program is approved, all students who have graduated from Fall 2019 (last semester) onward will be counted as graduates from a PAB accredited The team met with faculty, students, program. administrative leaders, area employers and “Enjoy this great news and continue alumni. They reviewed student work from pushing your comfort level! That’s how the past several years and toured the we can make the difference,” Dr. Mittal campus and facilities, including the studio told students. and the GIS lab. Graduate assistants helped guide the visitors and made them feel welcome on campus.
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Program director, Dr. Jay Mittal, said oral feedback from the site visit team was glowing. Comments included a recognition of an “astounding turnaround of the planning program in just a few years” and that they were “stunned” and “jealous” of the students, who “look happy, are communicative and are actively engaged in the planning field.” Out of 49 PAB standards, the program fully met 47 of them and partially met the other two, one of which was related to program
Many alumni, employers and other stakeholders traveled to Auburn to participate in the site visit and catch up with each other and faculty.
Classes Partner With Montgomery and Opelika for Hands-On Experience
Synthesis Studio II, taught by Dr. Becki Retzlaff and Prof. Binita Mahato, worked with the city of Montgomery, Alabama to create interpretation plans, which are plans that help tell the story of a place within the city effectively through design, narrative and preservation.
Urban Design Studio, taught by Prof. Binita Mahato and Jocelyn Zanzot, worked with the City of Montgomery to consider new ways of revitalizing and redesigning Mobile Street and the surrounding neighborhood area.
Sustainable Transportation Planning, taught by Dr. Sweta Byahut, worked with the City of Opelika and a consulting firm on a bike and pedestrian plan for the city.
Students were assigned topics such as industrial history, slavery, pre-civil war, and others, and chose individual sites and projects within those themes. Students worked with Montgomery planning staff, civil leaders and local citizens to collect data, formalize themes, propose programming and design, and finally present their plans to Montgomery.
Students examined current land uses, transportation infrastructure, local demographics and economics, environmental conditions, and existing design characteristics of the area to create neighborhood design plans that could guide development in the coming years. The plans were finalized and presented to Montgomery at the end of the semester.
While the COVID-19 crisis prevented students from completing the project, students were able to receive a briefing from Opelika planning and engineering staff and created present condition reports for four key road segments across the city, which were shared with Opelika. These reports included information on traffic counts, infrastructure quality, GIS map data and more. They were shared with Opelika and consulting staff.
Alabama City Year Program The hallmark of Auburn University's Master of Community Planning (MCP) program is the opportunity for students to engage with communities throughout Alabama and the Southeast in nearly every class. Every year the MCP program chooses a community to work with. That community becomes the central focus for projects in classes such as Urban Economics, Land Use Planning, Urban Design, Sustainable Transportation Planning, Community Development, Historic Preservation Planning, and Studio. Through these projects, students learn to help diverse and complex communities create and implement plans that improve and protect their quality of life, culture, resource base, built environment, natural environment, and economic vitality.